Cherokee Nation Pharmacy Director Jeff Sanders and Pharmacist Amy Christie point out features of the tribe’s new central pharmacy’s automation system. Located at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee, Okla., the system will be used to fill prescriptions for pick-up at all CN medical facilities. COURTESY PHOTO
CN to implement automated central pharmacy
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Patients of the Cherokee Nation’s health system will soon enjoy faster, more efficient pharmacy services.
A new central pharmacy located at Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee features an automation system that will fill prescriptions for pick-up at all CN medical facilities and be used for mail order prescription services.
Jeff Sanders, the tribal health system’s pharmacy director, said the central pharmacy’s automated system is efficient and capable of handling the large volume of prescriptions it’s expected to see.
“With this system, we will be able to fill 10,000 prescriptions per eight hour shift,” said Sanders. “It will open with a staff of 11 including four pharmacists, five techs and two clerks.”
Sanders said that most traditional pharmacies fill 100 to 180 prescriptions per pharmacist in a shift of eight hours. In 2010, CN pharmacies filled almost 1.25 million prescriptions.
With its conveyor belts and quality check stations, the automated system has the appearance of a manufacturer’s assembly line. The system is software driven. It sorts, measures and packages prescriptions for distribution. The pharmacy staff will oversee the operation and be on hand to assure the quality of the prescriptions the system fills.
Sanders said the transition to an automated central pharmacy will be seamless for patients and that there will be no interruption in their prescription drug supply. He also said he encourages patients to take advantage of the mail order prescription service available to them.
“We want our people to sign up for mail order prescriptions,” he said. “It cuts down on lines at the clinics, and that makes patients a lot happier.”
The new pharmacy service is scheduled to be in full use by all CN health centers by June 30.
ROCKVILLE, Md. – Officials with the Indian Health Service Bemidji Area recently determined that a physician employed by a staffing IHS contracted company had improperly accessed protected health information from three IHS facilities.
The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The three facilities include the Fort Yates Service Unit in the IHS Great Plains Area, the Cass Lake Service Unit in the IHS Bemidji Area and the Crow Service Unit in the IHS Billings Area.
The data breach included patient names, Social Security numbers and health information such as diagnoses, prescribed medications and laboratory results. However, there is no current indication that the information has been used by or disclosed to any unauthorized individuals.
“IHS is very disappointed that this breach occurred given that the staffing company contract included the requirement that contract providers must protect patient privacy and meet HIPAA regulations. We are committed to ensuring the security and integrity of all our patients’ personal information and are putting additional protections in place” said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, acting IHS director. “Keeping patient information secure is of the utmost importance to us and we very much regret that this situation occurred.”
The IHS contract at issue contained the requirement that contractors must protect patient privacy and comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and its implementing regulations. Even though these protections were required as a part of the staffing company’s contract with IHS, the contract provider improperly accessed these records.
In accordance with regulations implementing HIPAA, on Oct. 17 the IHS has notified all persons whose information was improperly accessed.
The Area HIPAA Coordinators have completed an investigation and the matter has been referred for appropriate action in accordance with HIPAA and its implementing regulations.
Patients who received the letter and have any questions can contact the following Area HIPAA coordinators:
• Cass Lake Service Unit in the IHS Bemidji Area – Phillip Talamasy at 218-444-0538 or email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>
• Fort Yates Service Unit in the IHS Great Plains Area – Heather H. McClane at 605-226-7730 or email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>
• Crow Service Unit in the IHS Billings Area- Felicia Blackhoop at 406-247-7184 or email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently awarded $3.9 million for outreach and enrollment efforts targeted at American Indian and Alaska Native children who are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid.
The awarded money from the grant will go towards funding activities that are designed to engage schools and tribes in Medicaid and CHIP outreach and enrollment efforts.
CMS awarded grant funds to health programs that are operated by tribes, tribal organizations, Indian Health Services and urban Indian organizations located in Oklahoma, California, Arizona, Alaska and New Mexico.
“We are very pleased to support efforts that help eligible American Indian and Alaska Native children gain access to affordable health coverage,” said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and CHIP Services Director Cindy Mann. “More people with health coverage also benefits local health care facilities, allowing them to offer more services and improve health care for the whole community.”
Grantees will organize activities that are focused on helping eligible teens enroll for coverage and ultimately ensure that eligible children maintain coverage for as long as they qualify.
These awards ensure that Native American and Alaska Native children will be given the opportunities to receive quality health care services.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.insurekidsnow.gov" target="_blank">www.insurekidsnow.gov</a>.
JAY, Okla. – Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses officials on Nov. 19 celebrated the topping out of the tribe’s new health center in Delaware County, which is still under construction.
“Access to quality health care is the most important issue facing our people. We made a strategic investment to ensure Cherokee citizens would have every opportunity to receive the kind of world-class health care they deserve,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The expanded space, coupled with new state-of-the-art equipment, allows us to deliver better and faster care to more people.”
The health center will be 42,00 square feet and is expected to cost approximately $13.5 million. It will have services such as behavioral health, contract health, dental, diabetes care, laboratory, nutrition, optometry, pharmacy with mail order, physical therapy services, primary care, public health nursing, radiology and Women, Infants and Children.
According to a CNB press release, the original Sam Hider Health Center was opened in 1989, which makes it one of the oldest health centers in the tribe’s health care system. Approximately 100 people are employed in the existing 26,000-square-foot facility. In 2013, that facility served more than 80,000 patient visits.
“It was time for a new health center,” Tribal Councilor Harley Buzzard said. “Health care is important to the Cherokee people, and I am grateful we are able to make this investment for the citizens.”
The new Sam Hider Health Center is one of four health centers under construction with the help of CNB, which provided funds of more than $100 million.
“This new health center is something that Cherokees will take pride in for years,” Tribal Councilor Curtis Snell said. “This has been a dream for a long time, and I couldn’t be more pleased that local citizens will have access to improved health facilities.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Oklahoma Breast Care Center’s Mobile Mammogram Unit will be making a stop on Dec. 11 at the Cherokee Nation’s Gadugi Health Center.
The mammogram screening is available to CN employees who carry insurance. The MMU is a service that is provided in an RV-type vehicle that has a mammogram machine where women can get their mammogram done without having to travel far distances.
When receiving a mammogram it is important to wear a two-piece outfit so it is easy to undress from the waist up. It is also recommended to not wear deodorant or powder because is can show up on the scan.
For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call 918-207-4911 or email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Cherokee Nation health facilities are holding walks to show support for diabetes prevention and treatment.
<strong>“Stop Diabetes” T-shirts are available to the first 50 walkers at each walk:</strong>
Nov. 14 – noon to1 p.m. at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell
Nov. 14 – 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Salina A-MO Health Center
Nov. 14 – 12:05 p.m. at the Vinita Health Center
Nov. 19 – 3:15 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Nowata
Nov. 20 – 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Markoma Campus in Tahlequah
Nov. 20 – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw
Nov. 24 – 11 a.m. at the Mayes County Boys & Girls Club in Pryor.
For more information on diabetes, visit your health care provider or visit <a href="http://www.diabetes.org" target="_blank">www.diabetes.org</a>.
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Construction Resources is working on four health centers within the tribe’s jurisdiction. Two new health centers are under construction in Jay and Ochelata, and additional space is being added to two of the tribe’s oldest facilities in Sallisaw and Stilwell.
The new construction is part of a $104.3 million health care investment, which Cherokee Nation Businesses’ profits is funding.
“It is probably one of the most rewarding projects that we’ve ever taken on. It’s not just one clinic, it’s multiple clinics and it’s all for the Cherokee people,” CNCR Executive General Manager Cheryl Cohenour said. “We’re Cherokees building something for the benefit of other Cherokees. It’s a great source of pride for us.”
The Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw is near completion as construction crews finish outside areas. The clinic is expected to be ready by the end of the year. The $11 million expansion will add 30,000 square feet to two existing health center buildings located at 301 S. J.T. Stites Blvd. and will include a new drive-through pharmacy, more lab space and physical therapy and mammography services. It will also have more than 25 exam rooms.
“What we’re doing is we’re adding on an annex to the existing clinic. Our target date to be ready for medical equipment to come in around the 25th of October,” Cohenour said.
The Redbird Smith Health Center was the first Indian health clinic to be constructed “from the ground up” in 1992 under CN management. The 21,945-square-foot health center opened in 1993 and was recently renovated because of mold. Reopened in August after two years of renovations, it now houses dental services, clinic administrative offices, a fitness area and public health nursing.
In 2007 an annex building was added adjacent to the original health center. This building is 11,444 square feet and was increased the capacity of the original health center.
A new health center for Jay is on schedule for a March completion, Cohenour said. The foundation has been poured and the steel for the walls and roof is in place for the 42,000-square-foot building.
The $13.5 million health facility will accommodate services such as primary care; dental; optometry; radiology; behavioral health; public health nursing; pharmacy with mail order; laboratory; nutrition; Women, Infants and Children services; contract health; and diabetes care. The CN also plans to add physical therapy.
Cohenour said a new 28,000-square-foot health center in Ochelata should be complete in December. Crews have been working on the interior of the $9 million Cooweescoowee Health Center, which will accommodate services such as primary care, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, pharmacy, a laboratory, contract health, diabetes care and WIC.
It will replace an existing 5,000-square-foot health center in Bartlesville, which opened in 2002.
Cohenour also said the expansion of the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center is going well. The foundation has been poured for the 28,000-square-foot addition, which should be complete in May.
The current 36,000-square-foot clinic is 20 years old and has approximately 135,00 patient visits annually and needs more space as its patient load increases, said tribal officials. The CN operates the largest tribal health system in the United States with 1.2 million patient visits a year.
The WPMHC offers primary care, pediatrics, physical therapy, mammography, dental, optometry, radiology, behavioral health, public health nursing, a pharmacy, a laboratory, nutrition assistance, diabetes care and WIC.
The design for the new W.W. Hastings Hospital is also complete as CNCR officials prepare to work on the three-story, 155,000-square-foot facility, which will be located on the east side of the current hospital in Tahlequah.
“We’re just doing everything we possibly can without turning dirt because we can’t do that (turn dirt) until we hear about the joint venture,” Cohenour said.
In August, the Tribal Council approved a request to Indian Health Services to participate in its Joint Venture Construction Program. If approved, IHS would help CNCR construct the $54 million hospital by providing staffing and operations funding for the hospital’s construction. Under the agreement, the CN would purchase equipment and provide the facility’s construction.
CN Health Services Executive Director Connie Davis said the CN would not break ground until it receives word about whether the tribe can participate in the Joint Venture Construction Program. To do so would disqualify the CN from the program.
“We feel pretty good about our chances, but the process is not complete yet, so we’re waiting on a decision. That decision will impact what precise date we will begin construction, so until that process is complete, which we expect to be completed this year, we just can’t specify a date,” CN Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.
The IHS is authorized to establish Joint Venture Construction Program projects with tribes for the construction of health care facilities as long as tribes spend tribal funds or other non-IHS funds, including loan guarantees, for the construction of a tribally owned health care facility. In exchange, for a minimum of 20 years, the IHS agrees to lease the health facility and land under a no-cost lease and provide the equipment, supplies and staffing for the operation and maintenance of the health facility.